Friday, June 08, 2007

TV Viewing Hazardous to Moral Health, CMI Study Finds

From "TV Viewing Hazardous to Moral Health, CMI Study Finds" by Gudrun Schultz, posted 6/7/07 at

Heavy television watching parallels a decline in moral values and a sense of personal responsibility, a new study by the Culture and Media Institute of the Media Research Center has found.

In a new Special Report entitled “The Media Assault on American Values,” released by the CMI June 6, a clear correlation was shown to exist between an increase in the number of hours a viewer spent watching TV and a decline in the strength of personal moral values. The report explored the findings of the National Cultural Values Survey, a major study of American cultural and moral values conducted in December 2006.

Among the areas affected by TV viewing habits were attitudes towards abortion, charitable giving, sexual morality, financial self-sufficiency on healthcare and retirement, and church attendance.

On the issue of abortion, 44 percent of light TV viewers (those who watch one hour or less per night, accounting for 22.5 percentage of the population) said abortion is wrong, compared to 27 percent of heavy TV viewers (those who watch four hours or more per night, accounting for 25 percent of the population).

While 39 percent of light TV viewers said sex outside of marriage was always wrong, only 26 percent of heavy viewers considered sex outside of marriage to be always wrong.

Fifty-five percent of light viewers said homosexuality is wrong, while only 43 percent of heavy viewers agreed. Sixty-four percent of light viewers opposed same-sex marriage, compared to 57 percent of heavy TV viewers.

While only 28 percent of heavy viewers are frequent church goers, 47 percent of light viewers go to church regularly. More than half (51 percent) of heavy viewers said they rarely or never attended church, while only 29 percent of light viewers said they went to church “rarely or never”.

When it came to a sense of financial and social responsibility, heavy viewers were much more likely to expect the government to provide for their health and retirement needs than light viewers, and they were much less likely to support charities. Sixty-four percent of heavy TV watchers expect the government to provide for their retirement needs, and 63 percent expect health care coverage, compared to light viewers at 43 percent and 48 percent, respectively.

Heavy viewers were more than twice as likely not to give to charitable causes (24 percent light viewers to 11 percent heavy viewers) and not to volunteer (56 percent light viewers to 27 percent heavy viewers).

“Are the media influencing Americans to duck responsibility for their own decisions and behavior?” CMI asked in its executive summary of the report. “By undermining core moral values, are the media leading Americans away from a mature acceptance of personal responsibility for their own lives and for their obligations to others?”

The study cited results from the Cultural Values survey that found 74 percent of Americans believe the moral values of the country have fallen over the past 20 years, and 68 percent of respondents blamed the media for contributing significantly to that decline.

The National Cultural Values Survey was conducted by the professional polling firm of Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates. The survey collected data from 2,000 adult U.S. citizens through 1,000 telephone interviews and 1,000 Internet questionnaires. Margin for error is +/- 2.2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.